Sorry, let me hold myself a moment.
I’ve been somewhat critical of Attack on Titan’s first 10 episodes. Sure, there have been good moments, even good episodes, but on the whole, I’ve felt largely underwhelmed by a second season of a franchise I love and expect so much from.
But somehow, watching episode eleven, I seem to have forgotten what was so bad about the rest of the season.
This week’s episode picks up straight up from where last weeks picked off, with Reiner transforming into titan form and making a get away from the forest in which Ymir had captured Historia (Christa). Eren remains unconscious and restrained by Bertolt and the recruits lead Hannes give chase.
The problem I’ve had with most of the episodes so far in this season is that, for all the big reveals that have without doubt been shown, everything has felt too slow and laborious (seems I remembered the problem, eh?). From the outset, this is not a problem with episode eleven. Ymir lets Historia out of her mouth to debate their course of action, but unlike most of the dialogue scenes in the season so far, I felt the pressure they were under from both Bertolt and Reiner, as well as the onrushing Scouts.
It’s not long before they catch up with the fleeing group and Mikasa quickly makes herself known to Ymir in her titan form, before Reiner protects Eren and Bertolt in his arms. Meanwhile, Erwin is using the rest of the soldiers to draw the mindless titans away from this group… or so it seems.
After a heated exchange between Mikasa and Historia, which saves Ymir’s life, the recruits land on Reiner in an attempt to gaud Bertolt (and thus Eren) out. For the first time, we here properly from Bertolt as he seems to show something like regret for all of the death’s he responsible for, but only goes on to justify them with his past ‘sins’, that he claims he will never be able to atone for.
Erwin then arrives back on the scene with the rest of the soldiers, with a horde of titans in tow! I’d missed Erwin’s crazy style of leadership, but this was possibly the finest example of it yet as the titans swarmed Reiner and Ymir, before Erwin turned his own soldiers back into the fray, only for his arm to get chewed off by an onrushing titan.
In the confusion, Armin manages what no one else could and forces Bertolt out by bringing up the likely torture Annie is going through as her only comrades run away. Mikasa is grabbed by a titan before being save by Jean, and then goes on to grab the now conscious Eren.
Erwin makes a return to the fight with only one arm, but possibly the biggest moment comes right at the end as the titan that ate Eren’s mother reappears as Mikasa and Eren lie stranded on the floor.
In the past when people have described episodes as ‘action-packed’ they had never imagined that there would an episode like this one. It does of course lead to criticism that after all of this build, everything in episode eleven happened far too quickly – but for this episode focus, I’m going to ignore that. The drama was intense as well, we had lots of titan kills, humans being eaten, not to mention the two minutes or so where we had no idea of Commander Erwin was alive or not!
There was no big reveal or flashback this episode and it’s pretty clear that the show has benefitted from it. Although I wasn’t episode sevens biggest fan, the fight between Eren and Reiner similarly action packed, and again, it didn’t suffer the problem of many episodes in as much as I wasn’t underwhelmed.
Speaking with my certified fanboy hat on, I would have to say that despite everything the best thing about this episode is Mikasa. You could argue that this episode is as much a character episode as it is a plot episode with Erwin making a big return, Bertolt getting involved, Historia and Ymir renewing their love/alliance/friendship. Mikasa takes the lot though, as we finally see the full extent of her emotion when it comes to saving Eren – situations like this episode have always threatened, but were never allowed to get this far: this time however, they did, and damn, isn’t she amazing?! There is absolutely an entire article on her facial expressions (as you might have thought yourself after seeing my screens in this one).
The way things have gone, I won’t be able to say I prefer season two to season one, but I can imagine when binged over a small space of time, Attack on Titan season two will feel much more impactful as a whole and I have faith that next weeks finale will make for a good ending.
Thanks for reading all the way through this longer episode focus! I got really into this after a very impressive Attack on Titan episode. Did you prefer this action based episode to the more dialogue heavy episodes, or were you craving more info after last weeks reveal? There were some pretty impressive performances this week as well – who was your favourite? Bertolt? Erwin? Mikasa? Or someone else? Let me know in the comments!